New Legislation drives Expectations for Education in 2024

Over the past several years students in primary, secondary, and higher education have been subjected to a pervasive ideology of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This instruction has been coupled with social emotional learning (SEL), which teaches students to react based upon emotions. This ideology has culminated into a student body that doesn’t think, can’t function, is easily offended, and has become more violent.

Fingers are pointed at parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members. The truth is there is a lack of integrity and moral courage. Too many parents have ceded their role to the public education system. Teachers are ignoring policies and rules to introduce inappropriate instruction. Administrators seek to maximize their retirement income rather than the educational achievement of students. School boards plead ignorance, ignore laws, and pass policies that provide limited benefit to student learning.

We’ve all read accounts of what parents have experienced over the past several years concerning student instruction. COVID may have been the best thing that happened to education because parents entered the classroom during lockdowns. The genie was let out of the bottle and the education elites are desperately trying everything in their toolbox to put the genie back. But their efforts aren’t working!

I often warn others that all legislation has unintended consequences and implementation is the greatest challenge. With that said, here are a few bills to mull over regarding the future direction of education in some key states.

Several education bills were introduced this legislative session regarding parents’ rights, health, and gender. Some mentionable bills include HB2041, HB2183, HB2310, HB2448, and HB2657. The amount of effort expended to ensure parents have input, information, and rights over their children via legislation continues to be baffling. Nevertheless, this is the system we have allowed.

A thought-provoking bill, HB2086 county school superintendents; qualifications, will have unions crying foul. It removes the requirement for county superintendents to hold “a basic or standard certificate to teach in the schools of this state.” If districts and states want positive change to student learning, it will require a dismantling of the status quo. There are too many administrative positions filled by educators rather than individuals with business acumen. This could pose an unintended consequence of a county becoming efficient and effective.

The legislature introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 665 – Minors: Consent to Mental Health Services that allows children 12 years or older to consent to treatment, counseling, or shelter services, if they are “mature enough to participate intelligently.” The bill, signed into law Oct 7, 2023, stipulates the professional person treating or counseling the student will determine if parental involvement is appropriate or not. And services will be paid through the Medi-Cal program. If the parents participate then they must pick up the tab. Could this be a deterrent to parental involvement?

Given the actions of the CA legislature and Governor, this is no surprise. The practice of Marxist ideology in CA and other like-minded states is removal of parents from their children’s lives by any means. There have been numerous cases around the nation where parents continue to be ignored, targeted, canceled, arrested, or worse merely for taking action to protect their children.

In CA it appears this bill had intended consequence, which is to divide families. What would you do if the system pitted your child against you? Any logical, sane parent would fight back.

A wide range of education bills have been passed over the last several years. Some more controversial than others, but the majority were intended to strengthen parental rights, offer more educational choice, and protect children. The current session continues to provide further support with bills such as HB931 School Chaplains. School districts and charter schools will have authority to adopt policy for chaplains to serve in a volunteer capacity, meet screening requirements, and publish an approved list of chaplains, to include religious affiliation. With all the mental health and behavioral issues schools are combating, this would be another support choice. Also, districts and charters choosing to adopt a policy must ensure parents are informed and written consent is obtained.

Wide open borders and millions of illegal aliens entering our nation has challenged our school system and this includes grooming and sex trafficking. The House proposed HB1135 Lewd and Lascivious Grooming to give definition and attach penalties for persons engaged in this practice. Protecting children is challenging enough without having illegal and inappropriate activity in our schools. Giving definition and punishing perpetrators is a definite step in the right direction. I’ll add that minimizing technology in schools can benefit and save children from this depraved entrapment.

The current General Assembly proposed HB853 Students; Department of Education to establish uniform system of discipline for disruptive behavior. Those who follow education know student behavior continues to decay. Not only do students bring weapons to schools, but they physically harm teachers, other students, miss classes, destroy property, and more. Teachers get minimal to no administrative support. When a disruptive student is sent to the office, that student is often sent right back to the classroom with no consequences doled out.

So why would this bill not pass? One argument for tabling the bill centers around authority. The state would provide a minimum uniform system of discipline versus school boards. However, if Marxist ideology focused school boards aren’t being effective, then the state has an obligation to provide a framework. Afterall the objective is to protect students from harmful and unhealthy behavior. The state appears to be taking steps to support school boards, not usurp their authority.

One school district in southwest VA is currently in discussions to close 5 of their 12 elementary schools. There are several reasons, but one primary reason is declining student population. Parents are choosing alternatives to public school. Could the closing of schools be an unintended consequence of not dealing with harmful and unhealthy behavior?

Stay the Course
Given the bills that are being proposed around the nation, could it be that common sense is entering the halls of legislatures? Are unions realizing diminishing returns on their efforts to keep the status quo so they retain power over the system? Have the past several years shown that we need a large dose of integrity in our schools? What about moral courage?

The genie seems determined to remain outside the bottle. With legislation that’s been passed, parents speaking out, and groups organizing to provide resources to give voice to the voiceless, the bottle will eventually break. Be encouraged! Positive change will continue to occur in those districts and states that give options concerning parental rights and school choice. When you don’t like what you see or where you are, make the choice and vote with your feet!

Dr. Karen Hiltz

FreedomWorks BEST 

National School Board Policy Advisor

Dr. Karen Hiltz

FreedomWorks BEST

National School Board Policy Advisor